On Thursday afternoon in Moscow, the Indian, Chinese and Russian foreign ministers will meet for a luncheon. This was revealed by the Chinese foreign ministry on Wednesday even as all eyes were firmly trained on the bilateral meeting between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Wang Yi, his Chinese counterpart.
This luncheon assumes significance as it will take place just a couple of hours before the crucial India-China bilateral meeting in Moscow. Russia, a good friend of both India and China, despite not intervening in the LAC (Line of Actual Control) issue appears to be nudging the two sides to talk.
On Tuesday, when News18.com asked the Russian Deputy Chief of Mission Roman Babushkin in New Delhi whether Moscow would want to step into the matter as the LAC is getting tense, he said it was not in sync with the Russian foreign policy to intervene “unless both sides ask us to”. However, Babushkin stressed that the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) platform could help build trust and understanding.
When Jaishankar meets Wang, this is what he is likely to tell him -- the LAC situation is grave and unprecedented and requires disengagement at the earliest and a subsequent de-escalation of the troops and ammunition that were amassed first by China and then mirrored by India. Both sides should abide by the protocols and agreements to main peace and tranquility on the border.
However, the most important message that will be conveyed will be that it can’t be business as usual. The LAC situation can’t be delinked from the overall development of bilateral relations. Speaking at an event, S Jaishankar had mentioned that since there was relative calm on the border for 30 years, China became India’s second-largest trading partner. It is these examples that could be cited to underline this point.
In the run-up to the meeting in Moscow, China opened up another front in the South bank of Pangong Lake in Eastern Ladakh. There were attempts at ingression on the intervening nights of August 29-30. Subsequently, as the ground commanders were talking, another attempt by China was made on 31st night though China presented a different version, accusing India of the same.
But the biggest provocation came on Monday evening when Chinese PLA troops opened fire in the air to intimidate the Indian troops in the Chushul sub-sector, as revealed by the Indian army. However, here too China had initially blamed India for opening warning shots. In over 40 years, this was the first time ever that shots were fired at the LAC, aggravating the situation even further. It is in this tense atmosphere that Jaishankar and Wang will meet late afternoon in Moscow.